Jesuit Father John J. Bergin died on Nov. 30, 2014, after a brief illness. Fr. Bergin died at St. Louis University Hospital two days after suffering a heart attack and subsequently developing pneumonia. Fr. Bergin was 78 years old, a Jesuit for 60 years and a priest for 47 years.
Born in Maplewood, Missouri, on Oct. 20, 1936, he attended Immaculate Conception Grade School in Maplewood and St. Louis University High School, graduating in 1954. He entered the Society at St. Stanislaus Seminary, Florissant, Missouri, on Aug. 17, 1954. After first vows he studied humanities at St. Stanislaus and philosophy at Fusz Memorial before his regency at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his theology studies at St. Mary’s College but moved with the theologate to St. Louis University for his fourth year. In 1968 he completed his studies at St. Louis University with the M.A. in history. He was ordained on June 7, 1967, made tertianship in Denver and pronounced his final vows on April 22, 1976.
Fr. Bergin’s main apostolate was high school teaching and, other than eight years at Regis Jesuit High in Denver and a year of retreat ministry at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado, the bulk of his work was at De Smet, where he worked for over 25 years as teacher, pastoral minister and chaplain to alumni. Although his degree was in history, most of his teaching focus was religion. As Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach wrote to Fr. Bergin on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee as a Jesuit, “It is difficult to imagine a more challenging task than teaching theology to adolescent boys in the contemporary United States; yet you have continued to do it with good-hearted dedication and love, in season and out.” Fr. Bergin had an unusual ability to make abstract theological concepts understandable to his students, and was a familiar figure to generations of De Smet students and parents.
He is preceded in death by his parents, William R. Bergin and Marie J. Bergin, and siblings Dorothy J. Long, William R. Bergin, Mary Virginia Kelly, and Thomas J. Bergin. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Thomas J. Bergin (Laura), as well as his loving nieces and nephews and their families.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.